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Cennergi (Pty) Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of South African mining company Exxaro, has received approval from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for the construction of a solar photovoltaic plant at Lephalale in the Limpopo province. The 80 MW solar plant was announced in 2021 to supply clean electricity to Exxaro’s flagship Grootegeluk mine in the region.
The Lephalale solar project marks the first phase of the decarbonization of the Grootegeluk mine, which is operated by Exxaro’s subsidiary Exxaro Coal. Cennergi will sell the electricity produced to Exxaro Coal under a power purchase agreement.
Roland Tatnall, the Managing Director of Energy at Exxaro & Cennergi, expressed the role of the Lephalale solar plant in accelerating Exxaro’s target of carbon neutrality by 2050. The plant is one of the first large-scale renewable energy projects to receive registration from NERSA in a record time of 47 days.
According to Cennergi, the Lephalale solar plant is one of the largest projects in the country that is financed by behind-the-meter renewable energy projects at such an advanced stage. The project has been fast-tracked to enable a reduction of a significant portion of the Grootegeluk mine’s emissions and to lower electricity costs. This is only the first phase of a multi-technology solution for the mine’s requirement with subsequent phases including energy storage and a wind power facility at an advanced stage of development.
Since September 2021, Exxaro has developed a significant pipeline of multi-technology (wind, solar, and storage) solutions targeting decarbonization, energy security, and cost reduction benefits to the company and other private customers. With the memorandum of understanding with Eskom, Exxaro is advancing comprehensive renewable energy projects in Mpumalanga province which will provide a blueprint for the ‘Just Energy Transition’ in the region.